1958 Ducati 125 GP
Frame no. 526
Engine no. 502
Rare early Ducati competition motorcycle
Purchased in Italy
Designed by newly arrived engineer, Fabio Taglioni, formerly with Mondial, Ducati's first overhead-camshaft single - the 100 Gran Sport - appeared on the racetrack in 1955 and soon proved unbeatable in its class. The Gran Sport's overhead cam was driven by a vertical shaft and bevel gears, and this method was carried over to Ducati's next racer, the '125'. A landmark design in the history of motorcycle engineering, the newcomer debuted Taglioni's famous 'desmodromic' method of valve actuation that dispensed with springs, the valves being closed by a third set of cams, an arrangement that spawned the sobriquet 'trialbero' (literally: three shafts). Positive valve closure was not a new idea, but Taglioni was the first to make it work on a motorcycle engine, and Ducati remains the only manufacturer to have offered this innovation for public sale. The new 125 racer debuted in the Swedish Grand Prix at Hedemora in July 1956 when, with factory rider Degli Antoni aboard, it lapped the entire field, romping away to a fairytale victory.
Immediately prior to the desmo's arrival, the new 125 racer had appeared fitted with two camshafts and conventional hairpin valve springs, and in this 'bialbero' (two shafts) form was later sold to customers. The 125cc bialbero made its official debut on 25th February 1956 and was almost identical to the Gran Sport apart from the cylinder head. With a maximum of 17bhp available at 12,000rpm, the 125 bialbero weighed 90kg (198lb) and had a top speed of around 175km/h (109mph).
While the factory only campaigned the bialbero in a limited fashion, they were supplied to privateers and saw considerable development up until 1959. The young Mike Hailwood won many races on a Ducati bialbero in the late 1950s, and national championships were won in the 125cc class from Sweden to Brazil.
This rare Ducati bialbero was bought, un-restored, at the Mostra Scambio 'swap meet' in Reggio Emilia, Italy within the last 10-12 years. Presented now in restored condition, it is offered with a Federazione Motociclistica Italiana (FMI) certificate.